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Dec 12, 2014, 10:10 AM

More than 50 women entrepreneurs in the Central River Region have met with representatives of micro finance institutions, MFIs. The meeting, which is the first of its kind for the women, took place in Jarreng with representatives from Reliance Financial Services, the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions- NACCUG and GAWFA, the Gambia Women’s Finance Association.

It came after the women attended trainings sessions on Business Management, organized as part of activities under the European Commission-funded project: Promoting women’s socio-economic rights in the Central River Region.

The women are part of a larger group of more than 130 women from Niamina East, Niamina West and Niamina Dankunku districts, who were trained on business management and group leadership skills to enable them manage their businesses and groups effectively and efficiently.

At the meeting, all three microfinance institutions made presentations on their work and how they can support the women. The question and answer sessions which followed was a strong indication of the women’s readiness to improve their businesses.

‘Can individuals access loans or is it just the group that can benefit? ‘When will you be coming to our villages?’ ‘If a group does not have money in their account, will you work with them?’ How high or low are your interest rates?’ These were just some of the questions that were asked by the women.

‘I am happy to have attended this meeting,’ said Yama Touray of Jockul village. We have been trained in business management already, so it is important to know how we can access loans to expand our businesses.’

Fatou Secka of Sinchu Alaji in CRR noted: ‘I have benefitted a lot from this meeting and I want to thank ActionAid. This is the first time we are having such a meeting and it is very important to us. On my part, I will spread the message when I go back to my village,’ she added.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Executive Director of ActionAid, Omar Badji, emphasized that the presence of the MFIs was a demonstration of their commitment to the advancement of women.

On the importance of the meeting, Mr. Badji said: ‘This is the first time such a gathering is taking place, as far as I can remember. If you link up with the MFIs, then our work will be made much easier,’ he said. He, therefore, urged the women to share contact details with the MFI representatives present, and to disseminate the knowledge and information acquired with other women who were unable to attend and with members of the groups they represented at the meeting.

ActionAid partners NAWFA and FLAG’s representatives also spoke at the ceremony, expressing their renewed commitment to the empowerment of women.

In closing the meeting, ActionAid’s head of programmes and Policy, Kebba Sima, reiterated ActionAid’s commitment to continue to work with the women and to empower them in its quest to eradicate poverty.

Mr. Sima expressed the hope that the women will make use of the knowledge gained and thanked them for their commitment. Amie Secka, president of NAWFA, who gave the vote of thanks, called for a change of attitude, unity of purpose among the women, and the timely repayment of debts.

The meeting was chaired by Bakary Fadera, manager for ActionAid’s programmes in CRR.